….working with young people between the ages of eleven and sixteen years.
Therapeutic aspects to working with under sixteens.
In order to begin working with a young person under sixteen years it is necessary for me to have written consent from a parent or guardian. Currently I work with young people from the age of eleven years and upwards. The process with this age group offers the same safe and supportive space and confidential holding as applies to therapeutic work with adults. There is a difference however in that parents/guardians are likely to be the primary support for this age group, with a valuable understanding of their childs experiences. It can be helpful and important therefore, for parents/guardians to have some opportunity to ask questions, discuss concerns, and share observations. That said, before I begin a process I ask to meet for part of the initial session with the young person and their parents/guardians to discuss the reason for seeking therapy, their expectations from the process and to clarify confidentiality issues and the bounds of our contact. I can also explain and answer questions about the process and how it works. At this meeting it will be possible for us to schedule a follow up meeting (usually at about the seventh session) to review the process and look at any changes or developments that may be noticed by the client and/or their parents/guardians. The effectiveness of the therapeutic process depends on the containment of a safe and protected space. In this context it is important to mention that once the process begins it is not possible to discuss the process content of the work at review meetings. The focus of feedback is based on aspects of overall experience and developments emerging.
Introducing your child to therapy
For some parents/guardians bringing their child to therapy offers welcome relief and new hope that difficulty can be resolved. For other parents/guardians it can be anxiety provoking and felt to be some kind of failure, or reflection of negative judgement and/or criticism. The reality of bringing your child to therapy, is that you have ‘heard’ them express some inherent difficulty in some way, that is difficult to understand or address and you are responding by giving them access to a therapeutic space to work through this. Parents/guardians are in some ways like GPs, in that they can respond to a very broad range of ‘primary care’ needs. Again similar to GPs, they address, resolve, and help with a myriad of difficulties that arise everyday. There are however, occasions when more specialised referral is required. It is the skill to notice and respond appropriately that might be considered the real care and measure of good parenting/guardianship here.
As parents/guardians you have a conundrum, you cannot stop or filter the effects of the global and everyday world entering your childrens lives and even if you could, it would then also exclude the good and great experiences this has to offer. Likewise neither can you always know the individual perception, experience or judgement your child might make of events and experiences and how they may interpret these. When something is wrong, overwhelming or problematic your child will find someway to express this. The difficulty is that the underlying issue may be a struggle for your child to understand or connect to themselves. This may leave them confused and blocked in trying to communicate and process it. Unfortunately, their efforts are often expressed in behavioural ways that can sabotage their attemps to get the attention and understanding that they most need.
Jungian Sandplay and developmental growth
I explain the work of Jungian Sandplay in more detail on a previous website page. I would like to reiterate here, the relevance of this method to this young age group, who can find it difficult not only to identify the source of their presenting difficulty, but also to articulate it. Through the creation of image, its symboising function and its ability to activate right brain resourcing, Jungian Sandplay can provide the optimum conditions for neural growth and change which are needed for healthy developmental processing. For all of us no matter what age we are, it is developmental growth that helps us to resolve difficulties and it is often a developmental difficult that is the source of the problems we encounter. Much of our developmental growth will happen in the everyday environment however we are now realising that it can be further engaged with and supported through psychotherapy, particularly when something seems stuck, unclear and difficult.
As therapist I focus solely on your childs experience without having to attend to nor hold the other responsibilities and issues inherent in parenting. It is this that underpins the supportive free and protected space that the therapeutic process can offer young clients. In my work this is offered in conjuction with the Jungian Sandplay method and a rich understanding of developmental psychology. This process can assist your child to identify, understand and resolve the source of their distress, gaining a deeper understanding of themselves that will support their ongoing development as individuals.